Retinal Nerve Fibre Layer Thickness and Contrast Sensitivity in HIV-Infected Individuals in South Africa: A Case-Control Study

Abstract

Background: Antiretroviral treatment (ART) has altered the spectrum of HIV-related eye disease, resulting in a lower prevalence of retinal opportunistic infections (OIs). However, abnormalities in visual function have been reported in HIV-infected individuals despite effective viral suppression and the absence of retinal OIs. These changes may be mediated by an HIV-associated ‘neuroretinal disorder’, characterized by changes in the retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL). HIV infection may also be associated with accelerated biological aging. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between contrast sensitivity, RNFL thickness, HIV infection and frailty in South African adults. Methods: Case-control study of 225 HIV-infected individuals without retinal OIs and 203 gender/age-matched HIV-seronegative individuals. Peri-papillary RNFL thickness was determined with spectral domain optical coherence tomography in four quadrants. CS was measured using a Pelli-Robson chart. Frailty was assessed using standard criteria. Multivariable linear and logistic regression were used to assess associations between HIV status and RNFL/CS and frailty. Results: The median age of both groups was similar (41.2 vs. 41.9 years, p = 0.37). 88 % of HIV-infected individuals were receiving ART and their median CD4 count was 468 cells/ml. Adjusted CS score was lower in HIV-infected participant

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